Technology is an addiction with tangible rewards for commercial real estate professionals.
For most who have had a mere few days to get their hands on a smart devise like an Droid, iPhone or iPad, they quickly begin to see that entertainment and productivity possibilities seem to be endless. It’s not hard to understand why we are seeing more and more eyes fixated on their mobile screens.
Last week I was flying back home from Chicago and being among the last to board the plane, I was amazed as I walked down the isle to see a majority of the passengers entranced by their mobile devices.
Other than the basic requirements we are born with (ie. eating, sleeping and …), it would seem that the rest of life can be taken care of with an iPad: games, communication, shopping, checking traffic and weather, music, taking pictures and videos, buying and selling stocks, reading the news, and watching movies, TV and sports to name a few. While attending the Washington Redskins game last Sunday, I was tracking the Washington Nationals on my Twitter and ESPN Score Center apps.
One could say it is very easy to become dependent or addicted.
While making room for direct human contact is essential for a balanced existence in this ever evolving world of technology, I have found that my iPad is an indispensable tool that I use to enhance my day-to-day productivity as a commercial real estate broker.
I never go to a real estate meeting without it, whether the purpose is analyzing a deal, negotiating a contract, or showing properties.
Here is a list of my current favorite productivity applications for commercial real estate professionals and investors. They are downloadable to the iPad, iPhone, or any other compatible tablet or mobile device.
Notability ($0.99): on-screen editing of PDFs, and taking fool-proof notes during complex conversations.
Forget carrying awkward hard copies of cumbersome documents that need editing to meetings (think plats, contracts and space plans.). With this app, you can pull up the documents as PDFs and with the proper stylus edit or draw on them right on the screen. Share the edited documents using email, Dropbox, Twitter, and more.
If your handwriting or your memory (or both) are faulty, you can link audio recordings of meetings directly to notes you write on-screen. While reviewing your notes later, simply tap on a word to hear what was said during that moment in the conversation! This is priceless for taking notes pertaining to complex legal issues in real estate.
This app has many other functions and features, too numerous to list here.
Quickoffice Pro HD ($20.00): creating, editing, saving, accessing and sharing Microsoft Office documents on the iPad.
The New York Times lists this in the Top 10 Must-Have Apps for good reason. This app gives you access to the basic Microsoft suite of programs that business professionals use every day: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can create or edit documents, and it integrates with Dropbox, Google Docs, and other cloud service providers so you can save and access your files from anywhere on the go.
TheAnalyst Real Estate ($9.99): on-demand financial report generator for commercial and investment real estate practitioners.
This is a powerful toolbox with everything from Internal Rate of Return and Net Present Value calculators to Lease vs. Own analysis reports to property measuring tools—and a whole lot more. You can upload reports to Dropbox or email as an attachment, and include your own logo on the reports.
My Measures and Dimensions ($2.99): store exterior and interior photos of properties with dimensions added.
This one is great for gathering important measurements during listing appointments. Take photos of properties for listing or investment purposes, and draw/write dimensions directly on the screen. Your measurements are then stored to refer to or share any time.
Planimeter – Measure Distance and Land Area on a Map ($3.99): measures distances and land areas of hard-to-measures parcels and objects using satellite maps.
This app works just like the drafting tool it’s named after: it measures the distances and land areas of irregularly shaped real estate parcels or objects (a kidney-shaped pool for instance). Pull up the parcel or object you want to measure on a satellite map and start dropping pins. The app will tell you distance, perimeter, and area size in acres or square feet.
MagicPlan (free): measures rooms and draws floor plans in minutes.
This app truly is magical. Stand in the center of a room, take photos of each corner, and presto—the app draws a floor plan that can be converted into a PDF or JPEG file complete with dimensions.
I’ve been taking some heat for my iPad addiction for a while. Go ahead, make your jokes at my expense—this little tablet has more than paid for itself in terms of productivity in my real estate work. Not to mention I am saving a lot of trees.
You know you want one. And thanks to me, now you have six excellent reasons to buy one. Seven, if you count the trees.
You can thank me later.
Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He is an appointed member of the Frederick County Charter Board. He also writes forTheTentacle.com.